by Rebecca Long Chaney
TIMONIUM, MD — More than 80 4-H members from four states gathered at the Maryland State Fairgrounds for the first Maryland Invitational Livestock Judging Contest.
For the past 15 years the Gene and Charlotte Mullinix family hosted the prominent Cattail Classic Regional Livestock Judging Competition at their farm in Woodbine, MD. The original brainchild of eldest son Chris Mullinix, Livestock Judging coach and associate professor of agriculture at Butler Community College in El Dorado, KS. Mullinix drove his judging team back to Maryland for 15 years to pull off one of the most competitive livestock judging competitions on the East Coast.
For more than a decade the goal of the Mullinix family was to engage young livestock judgers and get them excited about a program they believed in so strongly and make them excited about coming back each year. “In my opinion, there is no activity a young person could ever be involved with that serves as a better developer of life skills than livestock judging,” Mullinix said. “Through judging, our youth have developed decision-making skills, the ability to think off their feet and communication talents that will last a lifetime, regardless of occupation.”
In addition to the life skills learned, livestock judging coaches believe the program also fosters the ability to learn trust, the willingness to be open minded and the chance to learn teamwork and friendships.
One of the event officials and sponsors, Robert Dinsmore of Ceresville New Holland of Frederick, grew up involved in livestock judging and knows firsthand the benefits of the program. Not only does Dinsmore continue to help with the contest every year, but he is asked to judge at many shows and fairs across the country.
“I think it’s a good program and it was a big deal in my life — it has helped shape me into the person I am today,” he said. “I think it’s the best program 4-H has to offer to its youth.”
Twenty-seven juniors, 22 intermediates and 32 seniors judged 11 classes of beef, sheep, swine and goats. In the junior division, Sheridan Chaney of Elwood, NE, (formerly of Thurmont, MD) won first place in the junior division and her sister, Rianna, took first place in oral reasons. The second place junior overall was Abby Knott of Frederick County, MD, and the Sheridan was second high in oral reasons.
The top Junior team hailed from Frederick County, MD. Team members included Abby, Mickinzi Ferguson, Kallan Latham and Karianna Strickhouser.
The second high team was from Lebanon, PA, and team members were Dakota Grumbine, Dalton Grumbine, Noah Manbek and Jaren Bomgardner. The top team in junior oral reasons was the combined team of Montgomery County, MD, and Gosper County, NE. Team members were Rianna Chaney, Lizzy Miller and Payton Riley. The second high team in junior oral reasons was from Carroll County. Team members were Alison Stoner, Stephanie Anthony, Kailey Cooney, and Lily Conaway.
In the intermediate division, Tate Bittner of Carroll County won top honors in the contest and also took first place in oral reasons. Camille Mitchell of Chesapeake 4-H Livestock was second in oral reasons and Brandon Benitez of Frederick County was second high intermediate overall.
The top team in the contest and in oral reasons was from Frederick County, MD. Team members were Brandon Benitez, Brietta Latham, Kendall Harshman and Nikita Miller. The team taking second in oral reasons and second overall was from Carroll County and included Tate Bittner, Maddison Foster and Kristen Gruber.
Tyler Hough of Howard County captured top honors in the senior division while Jack Redifer of Montgomery County, VA, was second overall. In the reasons contest, Jack also won first in oral reasons and Dean Bennett of Howard County was second in oral reasons. The winning overall senior team was from Rockingham, VA, and included Hannah Craun, Makalyn Nesselrodt, Nicole Kibler and Dakota Rhodes.
The overall team in reasons was from Howard County and included Jackie Bauer, Tyler Hough, Audrey Bennett and Dean Bennett. The second place reasons team and second place team overall was from Montgomery County, VA, and included John Clause, Sarah Jane French and Jack Redifer.
Organizers said the contest would not have been possible without the support of the Maryland 4-H Foundation, Maryland State Fair and many other financial supporters, volunteers during the contest and livestock breeders who supplied the 44 beef, sheep, pigs and goats for the contest.
“Our first meeting was in the middle of May and I can’t tell you the support we’ve had for this Maryland Livestock Judging Contest,” said Kathy Gordon. “I believe the Cattail Classic is one of the best things to have happened to Maryland 4-H Livestock Judging since I’ve been judging way back when. I cannot tell you what worlds that opened for many Maryland kids.”
In tradition of the Cattail Classic and continuing the event’s legacy, Maryland coaches are already planning the 2nd Annual Maryland Livestock Judging Contest and hope to continue to make a difference in the lives of so many youth.
by Rebecca Long Chaney